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Mexican Drivers - A Bad Rap

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Post by CheenaGringo Sun Sep 04, 2011 7:22 pm

Through my years of reading various forums, I have read way too many disparaging comments about the talents and lack of courtesy of the drivers in Mexico. We just completed an 1888 mile drive through Central Mexico spread over 17 days and saw only one accident! This was on the cuota heading for Morelia and was a truck transporting newspapers. My guess is that he might have blown a tire and was sucked off the cuota into a ditch. I can guarantee that one who spends any time driving that distance NOB would see more accidents than that! Hell, I cannot drive a full day around Albuquerque without seeing 2 or 3 accidents. In the days when we were still driving down and back to New Mexico, we would only see 3 or 4 accidents during a trip that covered 3000 to 4000 miles.

While Mexican drivers may appear to be aggressive and sometimes crazy with their passing - they are often more courteous and better defensive drivers than most NOB!

YMMV

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Post by Solovino Sun Sep 04, 2011 7:44 pm

YMMV, no shit! Try driving in Guadalajara on a daily basis. I see accidents everyday. Some guy clipped my son on the periférico the other day. That's his third in 4 years.

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Post by CheenaGringo Sun Sep 04, 2011 8:13 pm

Obviously since we don't live in Mexico, our experience is somewhat limited. However during our most recent trip, we experienced the following:
1) two trips through Guadalajara coming from both Morelia and Leon
2) one R/T from Chapala to Tlaquepaque
3) three trips through Morelia (also known for crazy traffic)
4) driving through Celaya (also crazy)
5) San Miguel de Allende (don't need to say more)
6) Leon (also known for heavy traffic)

And on this trip, I was driving a smaller car (Toyota Yaris) that was uncomfortable after driving a minivan for the past twenty years and being able to see over the top of many vehicles.

Just an observation on my part and certainly a personal opinion!

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Post by borderreiver Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:07 pm

Having driven in New Zealand, driving in Mexico is an almost Zenlike experience. For us Canucks, there's always Montreal for bone chilling driving excitement.
As a Teamster, with 30 years of professional driving experience, there is no way I'd drive in Guad. That's why there are those things called "TAXIS"
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Post by CheenaGringo Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:16 pm

Come on! Driving in Guadalajara is no different than many large cities around the world!

Hell, I first learned to drive and earned my first drivers license in Bombay(now Mumbai), India in 1962 and the Mexicans cannot hold a candle to those crazies!


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Post by ferret Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:21 pm

Worst driving experience of my life was in Rome, Italy...six lanes of traffic all turning left. My hair starting turning white shortly after that.

That said, I'll pass on driving in Guad...mostly because I find signage for turn offs to be lacking and I can't drive and navigate at the same time.
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Post by sparks Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:22 pm

I agree that large city driving is beyond my grasp anymore except to pass thru. The problem with the ZEN experience is that everyone is not in that ZEN state ... and either is not awake or thinks they are the ZEN master

Driving in Mexico is an art form ... but there are lots of looooies out there. The real difference is I don't see road rage compared to up north

BTW I was a taxista in Seattle to put my self thru school
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Post by hound dog Mon Sep 05, 2011 8:49 am

Now, everyone try to remember that Cheenagringo is from the large hick town of Albuquerque which is infested with hayseeds from the New Mexico sticks and Texans (enough said). If Guadalajara is the "El Rancho Grande" of Mexico, Albuquerque and Phoenix are the equivalent in the U.S. Southwest. As irresponsible as Mexican drivers are in general, when we recently returned from a motor trip around Arizona and New Mexico, we were pleased to drive once again in Mexico where drivers are insane but less likely to fly into road rage at the drop of a hat or to needlessly impede fast moving traffic in the passing lanes on autopistas.

Now, as to safety, Cheenagringo was simply lucky on his recent trip and we who drive often between Lake Chapala and all around Southern Mexico can attest to that fact. We have seen far more horrible accidents in Mexico and France where we often drive than we have witnessed in the U.S. but we are not privy to any actual statistics regarding the accident rates compared to distance driven in these respective countries so our experience and Cheenagringo´s experience plus $20 Pesos will buy you a beer (and nothing else) but if you buy a beer, better to drive while drinking it here in Mexico instead of New Mexico where the slammer will be full of your kindred spirits awaiting your imminent arrival in the presence of Deputy Bill Bob.

By the way, there is no such thing as a Mexican driver. Drivers in general in Southern Mexico cannot in any way be compared with drivers in general in West Central Mexico and drivers in Guadalajara can never be compared with the suicidal, macho maniacs of a Oaxaca City or Tuxtla Gutierrez to name just two Southern Mexico cities in which we often drive.

In both the U.S. and Mexico, drivers in the huge megalopolises such as Mexico City and Los Angeles are better and more accomodating drivers than drivers in most large regional cities - at least after one learns the important local rules of the road. The problems in cities such as Guadalajara and Mexico City arise from the sheer volume of traffic plus inadequate signage to direct drivers unfamiliar with the respective urban zones to their desired destinations. In order to safely negotiate the streets of Mexico City, one need only remember that, in Mexico City, an amber light, which means exercise caution as the light is about to turn red in most places in North America, in Mexico City means step on the accelerator and race through the approaching intersection at breakneck speed after the light has turned red. The need to race through redlights is an especially compelling need for drivers of city buses and large trucks so always remember the local rule. A green light means wait a while before taking off and proceeding through the intersection unless you want to be smashed to smithereens.

Smokealot

All that having been said, we are glad Cheenagringo and Cheenagringette got back to New Mexico in one (er, two) piece(s) and we enjoyed their company while they were at Lakeside.





Last edited by hound dog on Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:17 am; edited 2 times in total
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Post by gringal Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:12 am

As a survivor of the Los Angeles freeways, I know about heart-stopping traffic. Eyyeee.
"Mexican drivers" is way too broad a category. From some of the best bus drivers anywhere (narrow streets of San Miguel) to the terrors of Guad...........and the guys passing at high speeds on blind curves who seem to want those plastic crosses badly, they vary widely.

The worst drivers in this area are, without a doubt.......the gringos. Some even brought a little road rage attitude with them. Plus, coming out of the Superlake parking lot in one piece is a giant "Whew" every time.
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Post by CheenaGringo Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:25 am

Gringal:

You bring up an interesting point about the buses in San Miguel de Allende. We drove there from the Morelia/Patzcuaro area and immediately noted the Mercedes Benz buses and how they were way too large for the streets of San Miguel! Morelia and Patzcuaro have hundreds, if not 1000's of combis and they would seem to be a much more appropriate mode of transportation in San Miguel. While I would grant you that it would take more of them to move the numbers but many of the buses we observed clogging the streets appeared to be fairly empty. Those streets and the size of those buses is a real conflict!

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Post by hound dog Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:30 am

Yes, Gringal, it´s odd but our experience with bus drivers runs the gamut from drivers with the utmost courtesy exercising great care as in San Cristóbal de Las Casas and the Chapala municipality to murderous imbeciles driving buses and/or combis in such places as Guadalajara, DF, Oaxaca City and Tuxtla Gutierrez. During our first years at Lakeside in the early 2000s, municipal buses in the city of Guadalajara set an all time record at running over and killing pedestrians and not even one bus driver was ever fired, much less prosecuted, for insanely dangerous driving. It pays to have a powerful union with drivers willing to participate in vehicular road blocks that impossibly snarl city traffic. Talk about raw power.

I can´t comment on bus traffic in San Miguel as I haven´t been there since the 1980s.
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Post by gringomojado Mon Sep 05, 2011 6:20 pm

gringal wrote:As a survivor of the Los Angeles freeways, I know about heart-stopping traffic. Eyyeee.
"Mexican drivers" is way too broad a category. From some of the best bus drivers anywhere (narrow streets of San Miguel) to the terrors of Guad...........and the guys passing at high speeds on blind curves who seem to want those plastic crosses badly, they vary widely.

The worst drivers in this area are, without a doubt.......the gringos. Some even brought a little road rage attitude with them. Plus, coming out of the Superlake parking lot in one piece is a giant "Whew" every time.
Smokealot

Most drivers in Los Angeles are "Mexican", the rest, Guatemaltecos or Salvadoreños!
gm
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Post by bobnliz Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:16 am

My Mum had a formula for driving in Mexico City...
"One hand on the horn and a fist out the window!" flag waver Lizzy
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Post by Rolly Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:54 am

Most drivers in Los Angeles are "Mexican", the rest, Guatemaltecos or Salvadoreños!
After the Vietnam war ended, many refugees came from there to Los Angeles. Suddenly bad drivers on the freeways became a major problem as folks who last year were driving water buffaloes where now on the LA freeways. After a couple of years things settled back to normal mayhem as the buffalo drivers were either killed off or learned to drive.
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Post by viajero Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:07 am

I grew up driving in L A and I thought I'd seen it all till I moved to GDL,I am constantly amazed at the rudeness and ignorance of many of the drivers here.
Chris

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Post by CheenaGringo Tue Sep 06, 2011 4:27 pm

As with many things in life, each of us has a different perspective and point of reference. Years ago when we had our home in Ixtlahuacan, we would arrive with all sorts of projects on our schedule and spent virtually every trip up tight and frustrated. We would often make runs into Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque and Tonala and the traffic and drivers drove me nuts!

Starting in 2006, we started driving into Mexico and started really accepting the way it is. Now when I set foot on Mexican soil, all tension goes out of my body and my head and it is time to relax. Sure I continue to be amazed by the way things are done, the way people drive and numerous other unplanned experiences but now I can laugh and learn! It is a very rare occasion when I get uptight while driving and I happen to find the challenge fun.

YMMV

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